Taking an already established brand and transforming it into something new may seem like a daunting task—even the marketers in 13 Going on 30 labeled rebranding as a “death sentence”—but if the presentation made by protagonist Jenna Rink at the end of the movie showed viewers anything, it’s that rebranding is an opportunity for companies to adapt and make changes towards a more positive future. As a quick explainer, rebranding is when companies acknowledge changes needing to be made so they can better suit circumstances, trends, and the needs of their current audience to stay relevant.

Top Ten Reasons for Rebranding

There are quite a few steps to rebranding a company. Companies essentially have to conduct a business audit to understand what’s working and what’s not. Rebranding can also be either a top-down kind of operation or it can simply be a tune up. Either way, rebranding your store or changing your branding requires a lot of planning and forethought. This leads to the question: what drives businesses to rebrand in the first place? Below are the top ten reasons why companies rebrand:

  1. Relevance
    The biggest reason that trumps all others and arguably drives each reason below is relevance. The art of rebranding is very much about helping a business stay relevant in the eyes of its target audience.

  2. Outdated Imagery
    Companies rebrand themselves by introducing a new look or logo to modernize their style. You see this happen all the time with big-name brands like Google, Coca-Cola, and most especially Starbucks and their infinitely shrinking logo to reflect the mermaid’s face.

    Oftentimes, a logo will be modified slightly while preserving its main branding elements. Imagery can also be edited for social media, as different filters and photography styles cycle out just like fashion trends. In other words, if you’re wondering, how do I rebrand my business on social media? The answer is through your imagery.

  3. Repositioning
    One of the most notable repositions a brand has done within the last 10 years is ABC Family’s rebranding to Freeform. This change took place because the network was looking to appeal to a particular demographic of viewers. Tom Ascheim, President of ABC Family at Disney, said they’re looking to target viewers who are transitioning from childhood to adulthood, “between your first kiss and your first kid.”

    Although ABC Family had already created content for this subset of viewers, the viewers didn’t perceive the network to be for them. The change from ABC Family to Freeform was a move for the network to reposition themselves to be more palatable and inclusive to their target audience. Vanessa Marano, actress for the network’s hit drama, Switched at Birth, said “Freeform means no boundaries – but the good kind of no boundaries, not the kind that leave you screaming, boundaries, dude, when your roommate walks around your apartment without pants.”

  4. Market Changes
    With the rapid advancement of technology, there have been many instances in which the inherent nature of different industries have changed. When this happens, brands must change as well. This can be seen with companies like Walmart, who were originally retail brands and went into eCommerce because of high demand. Remember that changing your branding may mean reacting to changes in your market or industry.

  5. Corporate Responsibility
    Branding previously consisted of a logo, a color palette, and maybe even a mission statement. Today, branding is very much more than that and can even include political and ethical views to better appeal to an audience. For example, Deloitte, professional services firm, has a stance on corporate responsibility detailing a “commitment to driving societal change and promoting environmental sustainability.”

  6. Globalization
    There are many different cogs and fixtures coming together to produce a single unified brand when companies go global. In order to produce a unified front, a brand needs to encompass the umbrella of services an international business offers. As part of this, it’s important to know how to create a brand voice guide because you want all parties involved to be on the same page, which means sounding the same. After all, it’s really important to remember cohesion when companies go international.

  7. Acquisitions and Mergers
    When companies merge or acquire other companies, there’s always a bit of an identity crisis. This is why rebranding needs to take place. When two businesses become one, there will always be a need to hash out the details and answer the ultimate question: who are we? Major changes sometimes need to occur on both ends, but more often than not, brands are still able to keep their basic operating levels the same as before. An example of this is Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. Not much has changed on a basic level with Whole Foods apart from Amazon Prime shoppers getting a little extra discount at checkout.

  8. Competition
    With dozens of different markets oversaturated with businesses and corporations of all sizes, it can be hard for brands to create a defining portrait of themselves. It’s when brands can’t distinguish themselves enough or aren’t unique enough to make themselves stand out in the minds of consumers that rebranding needs to take place.

  9. New Management
    Depending on the newly appointed executive, this reason may be a crowd favorite or the worst one of all. But when new management steps in and decides the company is going in a different direction, inevitably, it happens.

  10. Bad Reputation
    This can be tough to recover from, but repairing a bad reputation may be the most pressing reason on the list. When a brand has run its reputation into the ground, it’s hard to do business with anyone. A brand represents the company’s values, principles, and standards. If there are none, there’s no doubt consumers will opt for your competition.

Keep in mind that the reasons listed above are the top reasons companies are rebranding themselves. There are many others that aren’t on the list. There’s no specific time that will present itself as the best time for a company to rebrand itself either. If your sales have plummeted and you’re borderline bankrupt, then maybe that’s a good indication that it’s time to rebrand, but don’t let it get to that point! Listen to your user’s feedback and change your brand as necessary to satisfy their needs.

How to Rebrand a Business Without Losing Existing Customers

When it comes to a rebranding, there are certain steps your business should take in order to rebrand without losing or distracting existing customers. These steps will show you how to rebrand your business in a way that makes the shift easier for your users. You can use this as a company rebrand checklist for when the time comes:

  • Establish a Timeline of Events
    By establishing a timeline of events for your team, you’re not only giving yourselves a deadline to complete the rebranding process, but also creating a buffer period for your audience. This timeline should include everything from the first announcement of the rebranding to the final crossover. This will also help keep your team in check so you’re always on schedule.

  • Make Announcements
    Your audience needs to know what’s going on. If you suddenly create a drastic change by renaming your company or completely switching your color palette, users will be confused. By making a rebranding announcement letter to customers, you will ensure they understand what’s going on. In these announcements, tell them what it is you’re going to change and get them prepared for whatever is soon to come. Making announcements beforehand helps users mentally prepare for the changes ahead.

  • Distribute Marketing Material
    Apart from making an announcement, show your users why you’re doing what you’re doing. In your marketing material, make sure to show before and after shots of your website or app, platform, or business store front. Make posts on social media, send them an email, and maybe even send some snail mail. In each post, remember to include a short reason as to why you’re doing the rebranding. Explain to your users how the incoming changes will better service them and their needs.

  • Openly Communicate with Your Audience
    Customer loyalty is lost when users feel like they aren’t being thought about. For instance, that’s why the abrupt changes to the Snapchat landscape were met with such blind fury last year. Users felt like they weren’t being put first. In order to avoid that drama, keep an open stream of communication with your audience. Have readied answers to their questions on FAQs page or create a live chat where they can ask any questions they might have. This step is the most important one because you really want to emphasize the changes that are happening are for their benefit.

  • Rollout Rebranding Slowly Once each of the above steps are well prepped, slowly start your rebranding. You want your users to be eased into their new environment. Take each element and introduce it to them until they can fully appreciate the newly redesigned and reimagined version of your brand.

Key Takeaways

Rebranding is evolution for businesses; it’s part of the nature of the beast. Hopefully, these rebranding strategies and tips have shown you how to rebrand your business successfully. While rebranding has as many pros as it has cons, many of the rebranding cons can be remedied with open and honest communication. If you show your users that the changes happening are to benefit them, you will see that rebranding can be a fun, positive, and inspiring process.

Here are the key takeaways of what we covered one more time:

  • Rebranding is about relevance. It’s about modernizing a brand’s imagery and repositioning it to better appeal to a specific demographic.
  • Rebranding is also about adapting to new markets or taking on a corporate responsibility and identity. It’s about appealing to a global community and presenting a unified front.
  • In order to run a successful rebrand, your team needs to create a timeline of events to stick to. You also need to make rebranding announcements and distribute marketing material so your audience stays in the loop
  • And finally, slowly roll out the rebranding process to ease your users into their new environment.